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Chapter 4: Neolithic 2 Mureybat (Pages 161-163)

Pre-History and Archaeology Glossary

Excerpts and Definitions and Addendums:

Occupation continued into the next stage without interruption at one site in the Euphrates valley, Mureybat. The latest Neolithic 1 occupation was Cauvin's phase III; this was succeeded by phase IV. A deposit with material typologically intermediate between phases III and IV was found towards the end of the excavation and this has provisionally been named phase IVA. Cauvin found deposits of phase IV in a sounding on the eastern slope of the central mound and has also recognized material of this phase in a collection from van Loon's sounding W15 made to the north of the central mound. I have seen similar artifacts mixed with material from the earlier levels in the collection from van Loon's excavation in the Aleppo Museum. On visits to the site I have also found much material of this phase on the north and north-west of the large oval platform around the central mound. It appears, therefore, that the phase IV settlement covered much of the area of the site but its remains have not been properly tested in the recent excavations. There are scatters of flints of this phase along the river bank between the ferry and the mound and also on the track up-river to the north away from the modern village. This suggests that during phase IV there was transient occupation over a much wider area than the central mound at Mureybat. Some of this abundant material from the excavations and the surface is typologically quite late, including pressure-flaked tanged arrowheads for example that elsewhere are often associated with finds of early Neolithic pottery and which may therefore be 6th millennium in date. There are also indications from strata XVIII and XIX of van Loon's excavations and my own observations of the surface of the site that the mound was occupied intermittently much later from the Bronze Age to the Islamic period.

The structures in Cauvin's sounding on the eastern slope of the central mound were all rectilinear and made of mud-brick. No complete buildings were exposed. The flint industry consisted mostly of tools made on long blades struck from double-ended or keeled cores. The most abundant types were burins, end-scrapers and tanged arrowheads. The latter were usually finished with abrupt retouch but some had squamous flaking; notched arrowheads were virtually absent.

There are no C-14 dates for this phase so its chronology has to be determined by comparing the remains with other sites. The nearest dated site in the Euphrates valley with comparable remains is Bouqras where the aceramic levels, I and II, have similar material. The dates for all the levels at Bouqras cluster around 6000 BC. Similar material from Tell Aswad near the source of the Balikh is dated to the mid 7th millennium. It appears that the new cultural configuration in the Euphrates valley lasted for much of the 7th millennium. Until the chronology of the lengthy sequence at Abu Hureyra has been determined it will not be possible to date precisely the gradual typological evolution of the flint industry and other artifacts of this perlod. Phase IV at Mureybat should fall somewhere within the 7th millennia but for the moment we do not know exactly when it began and ended. Phase IVa must have begun about or soon after 7500 BC when phase III came to an end and probably continued until about 7OOO BC.

The importance of the Mureybat sequence is that in phases III and IV one can see the emergence of the new cultural configuration from Neolithic I. The full development of the new phase has been most clearly revealed at Tell Abu Hureyra further down the Euphrates valley ...

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